By the River I was Sitting

By the River I was sitting

By the River I was sitting
Watching barges floating by
Like the clouds so full of promise
In the blue and burning sky

Bearing jewels, bearing silver
From the mountains crowned with snow
Bearing spices, sweet and fiery
From the jungles down below

By the River I was waiting
For a boat to pick me up
Till the oars were folded inward
And the city-gates were shut

On my roof-top I was watching
Night like lapis-lazuli
While the stars were slowly rolling
Round the tiny lonely me

By Two Rivers I was dwelling
In a house of golden bricks
In my dress of snow and silver
Waving to intrepid ships

When the stars had come full circle
Strangers broke my city-gate
And my boat lay by the palm-trees
Finest date-wine was its freight

And it flew against the current
And it floated with the storm
Till I climbed the purple mountains
Where the River Twins are born

Christina Egan © 2011

Jar, elegantly curved, with brown and blue glaze.

 

This song of the woman by the river is taken
from my stage play The Bricks of Ur  (© 2011).

Place: City of Ur, Mesopotamia — Time: 2000 B.C.

Photograph: Assyrian jar (9th to 7th c. BC).
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

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au jour des ténèbres

au jour des ténèbres

Three tall gothic windows with modern stained galss, abstract and subdued.au jour des ténèbres
une chandelle dansait
au jour des funèbres
une fleur étincelait

à l’heure de silence
une voix m’a touché
à l’heure de souffrance
une main m’a brossé

à l’aube très lente
une étoile est surgie
dans l’âme patiente
la lueur s’élargit

comme si la souffrance
se tintait de bleu
ô douce espérance
qui baigne les yeux

Christina Egan © 2018

This poem was inspired by a French church service where the words ‘souffrance’… ‘silence’… ‘patience’… seemed to echo in the dark church on a dull Good Friday…

Windows in St Nicholas, Ghent. Photograph: Christina Egan © 2018.

Yellow Fire (April Haiku)

Yellow Fire
(April Haiku)

*

Little rust-red leaves,
no, blood-red in the sunlight,
there, throbbing with life!

*

White stars are floating,
above the ancient tombstones,
on the slanting tree.

*

Little lime-green leaves
running along the hedges,
look, like yellow fire!

*

Christina Egan © 2017

Drawing of three old-fashioned spinning tops.Illustration from
‘Children’s games throughout the year’ 
(1949) by Leslie Daiken.

Sambation

Sambation

O daß der Mühlenräderlärm der Plätze
verrauschte wie ein Sommerwolkenbruch,
das grelle purzelnde Geröll der Menge
versiegte in der Großstadtstraßenschlucht,

auf daß das Flußbett sich durchwandern ließe
an Pforten, Traufen, Blumentrog vorbei
und nur die Schwalbe in die Stille stoße,
hoch, froh, mit Sichelflug und Silberschrei.

O daß die Lichterstrecken, Lichterhaufen
verblaßten wie das Nordlicht überm Meer,
auf daß die Sterne aus dem Dunkel tauchten
wie ein mit Bronze überglänztes Heer!

Christina Egan © 2017


The mythical river Sambation at the edge of the known world cannot be crossed because it is wild and full of mud and rocks — or even consists of rocks instead of water.

Here, the busy streets of a big city are experienced as a ravine full of tumbling stones, while the screech like grinding millstones; by night, the galaxies of lamplights drown the stars.

The opposite images are the quiet riverbeds of empty streets; the silent sky punctuated by the flight and cry of a swallow; and then the stars re-emerging…

This poem will be published in the German-language calendar Münsterschwarzacher Bildkalender 2019 (available from mid-August).

Alles drängt vorwärts

Alles drängt vorwärts

*

Fahrzeug um Fahrzeug,
bunte Menschen, Hunderte,
alles drängt vorwärts.
Durch das Adernetz der Stadt
rollt das Leben, das Sterben.

*

Kein einziger Stern,
bloß Wolken, Nebel und Staub
über den Dächern.
Doch Funken stieben, golden
und rot, über die Kreuzung.

*

Christina Egan © 2015/ © 2017

Busy junction in the dusk, with red and yellow lamps of cars and buses glaring.

These tanka were written in Bloomsbury, London,
one in summer and one in winter, one bright light
and one in dim light;  but the seasons and hours
make less difference in London than elsewhere…
For similar poems in English, go to Ripples of People.

Photograph: Deptford Broadway, London.
Michael Oakes © 2016